BP is one of the largest integrated oil companies in the world, with an estimated global market share of around three per cent of oil and gas production and four per cent of refining capacity in the major global markets in which it operates.

Organisationally BP has three business segments: exploration and production, refining and marketing gas, power and renewables. It operates in 100 countries with well-established businesses in Europe, North and South America, Australasia and Africa.

Despite record full-year profits of £12.4 billion, this year has been one of the worst in BP’s recent history. The oil giant’s reputation has been dragged through the mud by pipeline problems in Alaska and criticism of safety procedures at its US refineries. Last October, US federal investigators claimed BP was aware of problems with equipment and procedures well before the explosion at Texas City in 2005.

Lord Browne, leaving early from his position as chief executive, said that BP had “fallen short of our expectations in certain areas” but he insisted the best was yet to come from the group. “We are headed in the right strategic direction and we should not allow recent setbacks to obscure that,” he said. He added that BP was urgently tackling safety and operational issues highlighted by the Texas City refinery blast and pipeline problems at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.

BP styles itself as a global energy company whose employees need to react quickly to ever-changing global business environments and deal competently with a huge range of issues from ethics to compliance. Understandably, the organisation spends significant resources ensuring that its employees are the most able and uses IT to facilitate this. The company is committed to ensuring employees have a good work-home balance, promoting flexible and remote working and other family-friendly policies such as career breaks and parental leave.

BP’s personnel at all levels are offered mentoring and the company has an online Digital Academy to help IT staff achieve their professional aspirations. Recently BP piloted a programme where, on receipt of an allowance, staff could buy their own computing equipment for use at home on the proviso that they would take responsibility for their own support and security issues.

BP refineries, chemical plants and other sites periodically undergo major overhauls where equipment is shut down for testing and maintenance. During these periods, sites generate no revenue, meaning the cost of downtime is enormous. To reduce this downtime, the company has developed and deployed a wireless mobile task management system, which it believes could save tens of millions of dollars per year.
Previously, BP used paper-based tracking, which involved the need to collect thousands of signatures and frequently led to bottlenecks.

The Task Tracker system, developed with Syclo, controls work assignments and provides status details in real time to workers via handheld devices, as well as tracking equipment via RFID tags. An innovative wireless mesh network allows the system to work even in the most wireless-unfriendly environments.

In March this year, BP announced that it would be installing Retalix’ Storepoint software at over 27,000 petrol stations, convenience stores and fast food service restaurants across 18 countries to establish a common business process and a common architecture to drive operational excellence at reduced operating costs.

Retalix StorePoint is a suite of applications that supports a number of fuel, retail and foodservice formats, as well as multiple languages and currencies, in a single integrated solution. StorePoint has been piloted in several BP locations worldwide during the past two years and global deployment began in Australia in February. The complete rollout is scheduled to take place over the next three years.

“We are headed in the right strategic direction and we should not allow recent setbacks to obscure that”
– Lord Browne, ex-chief executive, BP